The November 2016 Kaikoura magnitude 7.8 earthquake largely destroyed the lovely old Mayfair cinema on the foreshore, leaving little more than the art deco-styled pink and black facade salvageable. In the ensuing months, the community of Kaikoura has been fund-raising (donations, film screenings in other venues, art auctions etc) to have the Mayfair rise again. One particular local (John Wyatt) has been the driving force behind this.You can find more information about their fundraising on their Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/mayfairkaikoura/
When I visited on December 9, 2019 the timber framing for the external walls was being raised. The plan for the new Mayfair includes two cinema screens and a large auditorium for live events. It will provide a important cultural centre for the lively town of Kaikoura, and a replacement balcony will ensure it will be once again a cinema which has one of the finest views of mountains and ocean in the world.
There is a proposed opening date of 9 November 2020. I hope to be there.
The Mayfair pre-earthquake:
Auckland Live (www.aucklandlive.co.nz) has announced an extensive programme of outdoor film screenings in Aotea Square for the summer months of December/January/February. There are screenings on Thursday and Sunday; to include popular feature films (starting Hunt for the Wilderpeople), short film programmes, and recent documentaries.
Update: On my recent South Island I encountered more outdoor summer screenings: in Nelson, Christchurch and Lincoln. Pictures below from planned screenings in Christchurch and a screening underway, next to the Apollo Cinema in Lincoln.
There will be outdoor, evening screenings of Casablanca, Stop Making Sense and The Rocky Horror Picture Show as part of the Hamilton Gardens Festival, Feb 26-28.
I am putting together plans to visit as many South Island cinemas as possible, beginning in Christchurch and following a circuitous route, in early December. There are places I haven't been back to for a year or two, and some new places.
As I no longer have any university support to help my endeavours, such opportunities to travel are infrequent and need to make the most efficient use of time--so, I plan to visit more than 20 cinemas in eight days.
A further update (December 20): an organised trip around the South Island, which entailed much driving (and detours, due to road closures), resulted in visits to 28 cinemas in 8 days . There were places we did not get to (Akaroa, Takaka, Te Anau, Dunedin) but we pretty much covered the South. Updates of cinema listings will begin shortly.
I was particularly pleased to get to see several cinemas I had been unable to get to until now--such as Roxburgh and Gore.
Tivoli Cinema, Cambridge
Along with the Lido cinema in central Hamilton, the Tivoli in the pretty Waikato town of Cambridge is a favourite film-going venue. Stylishly developed and opened in 2014, in a refurbished building on the northern outskirts of town (between a large Bunnings and a very popular Good George bar/restaurant), it is a lovely three-screen cinema. Owners Shane and Karen know their films and their programming is often more adventurous that some other independents. It is not on the NZIFF circuit but festival films often turn up there and the Italian Film Festival was scheduled there in 2019
A reliable clue that will tell you that the film selection and screening quality (as well as the ambience) will be top-notch are the film books scattered around the lounge area.
Karen and Shane opened a companion Tivoli in Papamoa (close to Tauranga) late last year, which serves a slightly different audience. It is a little too far for me to venture, but the Tivoli Cambridge is just a 15 minute south down SH1 (where you can experience the thrill of a 110kph speed limit) for me. Since the highway bypassed the town, Cambridge has become even more of an appealing destination, with bookshops, antique stores, good cafes, and ready access to cycle trails.
A recent article from Stuff (1/10/19) featuring the Tivoli in Cambridge, the Starlight Cinema in Taupo and the Tokoroa 3D Cinemas www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/116228982/small-town-cinemas-here-to-stay?cid+app-iPad It should have included The Regent in Te Awamutu.
An interesting history of cinema refreshments/concessions/popcorn in North American cinemas:
Nik Dirga features the Academy and Hollywood cinemas and other Auckland art house cinemas, in an article "Cinema Paradiso" in the Canvas magazine.
I have been working on this site in wake of the re-design: updating information; identifying and remedying glitches. One significant problem I have identified is that all information on West Coast cinemas (Greymouth, Reefton, Westport and Hokitika) was lost in the transition to the new site. This means I will have to travel down there as soon as I can, to ensure these important places are included. Indeed, it was the now-closed Crooked Mile Talking Pictures cinema in Hokitika which inspired the first iteration of this site (see photo above).
Also, the Cinema of the Month feature (with the Lumiere in Christchurch as first entry) will be unchanged for little while longer, as I attend to other matters.
Lumiere: Arts Centre Cinemas, Christchurch
The Lumiere Cinema in Christchurch Arts Centre
To start this new feature on this site, it seems appropriate to begin with the newest art house venue in New Zealand. I journeyed down to Christchurch on June 27, 2019 for the grand opening in the Grand Hall of the old Arts Centre in the centre of the city. It was a sumptuous occasion, fitting of a remarkable new cinema, with MC for the evening Jason Gunn declaring "it is a dream which has come to life ... it's all class...the design ... the carpets ... the toilets".
The Lumiere is the creation of Nick Paris and Max Hoffman; two men who have a long career in the film exhibition, with a particular attachment to Christchurch. In Nick's words, "I want to hang on to the tangible nature of film and film-going".
Cinema has been absent from the Arts Centre since the February 2011 earthquake and the Lumiere brings it back with a tremendous flourish, in the former West Lecture Building on Rolleston Avenue. It feature two screens : The Bernhardt (67 seats) and The Bardot (42 seats). Naming screens after these two famous women signals the intent of the owners; to screen films, both old and new, which draw on film as both an intellectual and entertainment medium, in an atmosphere which is so different from the glare and aromas of the multiplex.
Do visit when you are next in Christchurch. I just wish it were closer to where I live.
Geoff Lealand was an Assoc Prof in Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato from 1992 to 2017. Now retired (not a word he favours), he writes social history, maintains this site, its Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as going to the cinema at least twice weekly.